Semantic Web for Information Modelling in Energy Efficient Buildings
Energy consumption over the whole Building Life Cycle (BLC) is difficult to monitor and predict due to the complexity of the processes involved. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a concept which has arisen to address the management and interoperability of the data exchanged between different computer aided tools employed at different stages the BLC, including design, construction, commissioning, operation, refurbishment and demolition. BIM therefore plays a key role in all aspects of energy management across the BLC. A leading standard which has been developed around the concept of BIM is Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). IFC is an exchange format which relies on a single file for a building which contains data in terms of the semantics of constituent building elements. It enables the passing this file between different stakeholders involved in each stage of the BLC. This however raises issues, related to the control of sensitive data within the IFC file, and the management of ownership over elements (e.g. for changes) so that the file is always up to date for all stakeholders. IFC also presents barriers in the speed with which new model elements can be added and made available across the tool chain.
The W3C Data Activity makes use of Linked Data, which is a structured form of data storage, distributed across the web, and which is supported by tools to easily query that data. By integrating BIM into the wider web of data, building information can be queried alongside all other Linked Open Data (LOD) sources, which include data on materials and systems (e.g. sensor and state of building devices data) which make up the building, profiles of occupants, and information about weather patterns and regional and global energy prices. Together this information can make for more meaningful analysis of energy consumption and its relation to the localised costs of materials, systems and personnel in existing and future buildings. Therefore, by using BIM and LOD technologies EeB projects will be better able to exploit their results beyond their own particular stage in the BLC and as a result benefit from greater overall impact.
The ‘SWIMing’ project will bring together existing EeB projects under clusters categorised by which stages of the BLC the project is applied and energy savings are achieved and the particular domains within those stages to facilitate knowledge sharing and increase the impact of project results.
It will support making the project processes and the data produced by these processes publishable as linked data on the web and through this structured format (BIM-LOD), make data more accessible and less fragmented across the BLC. This data sharing will address the requirements that span application domains and BLC stages related to energy efficient practices in buildings (Figure 1), thus easing the exploitation of project results beyond the specific application evaluated in individual projects. The approach will also align projects with the wider knowledge-driven economy made possible by the open technology and broadening skill base growing around open web data standards and the resulting technologies will help reduce energy use and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, by making Europe a competitive leader in the green building industries.
Through this clustering activity, members of the EeB community will be able to publish their outcomes in a manner which facilitates their exploitation and dissemination amongst the wider BLC Energy Management (BCLEM) communities. SWIMing is unique amongst existing EeB projects as it will specifically focus on addressing the issue of making building related knowledge and data more accessible and less fragmented across between projects and across the BLC. The project will work in parallel with existing efforts, for example E2B1, in promoting the use of technologies which support the process of dissemination of project results.
SWIMing will address the following three key objectives:
- Cluster existing Seventh Framework Programme projects which have been funded under the area of Energy Efficient Buildings. A full review of the type of domains, application areas and data modelling these projects address will be conducted, with the outcome of aligning each project to its appropriate area within the BLC and in particular how BIM and LOD technologies can support the exploitation of these results.
- Workshops addressing each stage within the Building Life Cycle Energy Management (BLCEM) will be organised, inviting project partners to share and highlight their project outcomes. Through workshops and EU-wide discussion, consensus will be reached on short and long term goals of each area of the cluster to identify how BIM and LOD technologies can support wider uptake of project results.
- The existing project models will undergo a process of alignment with LOD technologies, thus making them publishable through a dedicated information space following established EU Data Management guidelines2. The models will be expressed with additional meta-properties, including provenance, security and intellectual property rights, to support
SWIMing outcomes will be:
- An open and sustainable Europe Wide community of stakeholders, built upon a core Cluster of existing EeB projects, who will apply their expertise to the process of making existing and future project results more accessible and less fragmented within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) communities and beyond. In particular, those members who are interested in the use of free, interlinked, and semantically interoperable BIM resources for meeting current and future application requirements within the BLC will be encouraged to make their outcomes available using open web data technologies. Participants in the community will contribute to the project with their industry and research use cases and requirements on guidelines, best practices, as well as input on the uptake by the companies and institutions they represent. As a final outcome, the knowledge sharing among AEC communities will be increased and significant results from each one of the Clusters will be further disseminated and exploited.
- A set of guidelines and best practices for:
- standardisation of project outcomes though shared linked data vocabularies. Examples of these are, building system control data model, data models for communication between the building and the wider ‘smart grid’, models for describing new energy saving materials and devices, models of devices and sensors in terms of costs, energy ratings and their capabilities, models for describing occupant behaviour and comfort, etc.
- minimizing time, cost and resources employed in integrating (reformatting, interlinking) existing EeB project outcomes into the BIM-LOD cloud;
- generating and exploiting these BIM-LOD outcomes to meet new and future application requirements;
- identifying and developing LOD-based applications for frequent and common BIM related tasks.
The Provost, Fellows and Scholars of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, IRELAND